David Kirkpatrick

Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy

April 14th, 2015

By this point, I think most marketers understand the value and importance of the content marketing channel. It’s well known that prospects for both consumer and B2B marketers are now doing most research on their own — I’ve seen research reporting B2B prospects are now getting 80% down the pipeline before ever raising their hand and letting you know they might be a customer.

content marketing


A prospect 80% down the pipeline is likely going to be a more qualified prospect because they are nearing the end goal in terms of making a purchase — and because Marketing and Sales only have to get that last 20% to close the sale. At the same time, it means you can’t just push out marketing messages to names and leads in order to reach the entire marketplace.

The solution to this issue is to have a solid content marketing strategy in place, maybe even making content marketing the centerpiece of the overall marketing strategy.

Having spoken with hundreds of marketers about their content strategies over the years, I wanted to share tips on some of the basics of content marketing with the MarketingSherpa Blog reader.


It’s not about selling

One point about content marketing that can’t be emphasized enough is this: It’s not about selling your company, your products or your services. At its core, a content marketing strategy is targeting those prospects in the research phase that have yet to identify themselves as potential customers. You don’t know their names; you don’t have their email addresses in your database, and they might not even follow you on social media.

However, they are conducting research on your products, your services, your marketplace, your competitors and your company. If you can become a resource of basic information and instruction around the general marketplace of your business, you can become a trusted destination for those as-yet unknown prospects.

The two terms to keep in mind here are thought leadership and brand awareness. If you can provide valuable and relevant content to people conducting research on your marketplace, products and services, you can become a thought leader for information in that space.

As people visit, and revisit, your website and other digital outposts (such as a Facebook page or answer to a question on Quora) without being sold to, they will become aware of your brand. When they do decide to take a more definite step and raise their hand to be sold to, hopefully you will be top of mind.


Take advantage of multiple resources and types of content

Content can come from many sources, including:

  • Created internally by Marketing
  • Provided internally by subject matter experts within the company
  • Third-party experts and industry leaders
  • User generated

Most of the content in a content marketing strategy will likely be created by Marketing, but don’t overlook taking advantage of institutional knowledge within the company. A developer or engineer could be a great resource to provide more technical information on a product category or a solution to a challenge prospects might be facing.

Third-party experts and industry leaders can provide guest blog posts, host webinars on specific topics or maybe just be interviewed for a video. Utilizing third party experts can offer a certain level of validation of you as a resource that is working to solve problems and provide the best information for your visitor. This validation provides an overall level of credibility for your entire content program.

However, don’t forget user-generated content in the form of customer testimonials, reviews and more. Once again, this provides a form of third party validation, and it’s essentially your customers and brand advocates creating content for you.

While creating content from a variety of resources, you should also be creating a variety of content. Think far beyond just written pieces (although they are a very important group to focus on.)

Here is a short list of different types of content to share:

  • Written blog posts
  • White papers
  • E-books
  • Video (which can be found on a channel such as YouTube, repurposed in a video blog post and shared via social media — even uploaded directly into Facebook)
  • Webinars (which should be saved and shared on the website via an on-demand library)
  • Slidedecks from webinars shared via sites such as SlideShare
  • Infographics

Check out this infographic created by MECLABS colleague, Selena Blue, Manager of Editorial Content, about the five most effective email list growth tactics.



This list is nowhere near comprehensive. Just keep in mind content can be found in many forms, and offering a variety of content types makes it more likely that you’ll reach as many prospects as possible. For example, one person might want a deep read into multiple white papers and case studies, while another might prefer watching a series of short videos when they have an extra five minutes.


Sometimes it is about selling

Although the content strategy is about providing relevant information and not selling, there is one aspect of content marketing that actually is about selling. Once a potential customer raises their hand and becomes a name and a lead, the marketing becomes more targeted via lead nurturing. Depending on where they are in the pipeline, you should be prepared to offer them content that more-directly addresses their pain points.

When a person becomes a lead, they are looking for more direct solutions and information on the purchase they are about make. The further they are down the pipeline, the more direct the nature of the content can become, up to even comparing your specific solution to a competitors, for someone at the final stage before that conversion becomes a sale.

The important thing with a content marketing strategy is providing everyone the type of content they need, when they need it — and ideally in the format they prefer to receive that content. That means for the unknown researchers, provide basic information in a wide variety of formats.

Once you are content marketing to known leads, you can get more specific with content topics, and test to find out what types of content your prospects respond to best.


Photo courtesy of  Fernando Amaro.


You can follow David Kirkpatrick, Reporter, MECLABS Institute on Twitter at @davidkonline.


You might also like

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started [More from the blogs]

Inbound Marketing: How a B2B company used a content marketing strategy to improve customer experience [More from the blogs]

Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing [More from the blogs]

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733% [MarketingSherpa case study]

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , ,

  1. April 15th, 2015 at 10:05 | #1

    This blog post is spot on. Content marketing isn’t about your needs as a company – selling your product, increasing your revenue, etc. It’s about what your clients and your potential clients are interested in – their needs, their questions, etc. If you focus on them, they will focus on you, and your company will be looked at as a thought leader in the industry.

  2. April 16th, 2015 at 08:17 | #2

    @Melissa Sienicki
    You are so right. great summary…

  3. April 16th, 2015 at 17:29 | #3

    I agree that marketing is about offering what your potential clients are interested in and offering the content. Great tips.

  4. Stephany
    April 20th, 2015 at 03:53 | #4

    I agree, marketing is not only about selling but about trust and good contact. I would like to offer a quality content in my chosen niche too. What do you think about email marketing? Some say that it is still alive… enough that you use double opt-in to build trust.

  5. Kayla Cobb
    Kayla Cobb
    April 22nd, 2015 at 10:47 | #5

    Hey Stephany,

    I know that importance of email is a heavily contested argument in the marketing sphere. However, I would say that email is far from dead. A recent MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week shows that email marketing is popular across all age groups, with 35 to 44-year-olds preferring email by 78%. I would argue that email gives companies an opportunity to professionally communicate a large amount of information to their audience without getting too personal (which is a complaint that SMS messaging and communicating through social media receives).

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Thanks for reading!


  6. April 22nd, 2015 at 11:45 | #6

    I agree you have to change your approach depending on the audience you are marketing too.

  7. May 26th, 2015 at 02:41 | #7

    A great content can lead to having more potential customers. I guess there are some parts of this article that goes towards selling products or services.

  8. May 9th, 2016 at 03:56 | #8

    Content marketing is useful to get attention of audience. Visual content is very important! This article is very useful. I saved it into my bookmarks. Thanks For Sharing This Useful Information .Would come back to visit soon, again Thanks.

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